Healthcare Support Worker (HCSW) or Healthcare Assistant (HCA)

Healthcare support workers (HCSWs), or Healthcare Assistants (HCAs), play a crucial role in providing high quality and compassionate care to patients. They work as part of wider health or social care teams, working under the supervision of registered healthcare professionals.

Where do they work?

HCSWs or HCAs work in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals, GP practices, mental health units or in the community.

What tasks to do they do?

Typical duties of a HCSW or HCA include:

  • Making sure patients are comfortable
  • Helping patients move around
  • Washing and dressing patients
  • Taking basic observations and updating patient records
  • Keeping departments tidy and ensuring equipment is clean
  • Serving meals and helping patients eat

Where can the role lead?

Once you have gained enough skill and experience as a HCSW/HCA, you may be able to progress to a role as a Senior Healthcare Support Worker which involves more duties and responsibilities. After a further period of time, you may be able to train as a Nursing Associate and later on train to be a registered Nurse. Alternatively, after working as a Senior HCSW/HCA for a while, you could choose to train as an Assistant Practitioner and later on train in a particular specialism to become an Allied Health Professional.

Other Healthcare (Clinical) Support Roles

  • Ambulance Care Assistant / Patient Transport Service Driver
  • Call Handler / Emergency Medical Dispatcher
  • Cardiographer
  • Creative Therapy Support Roles
  • Dental Support Worker
  • Dietetic Assistant
  • Donor Carer
  • Emergency Care Assistant
  • Maternity Support Worker
  • Newborn Hearing Screener
  • Occupational Therapy Support Worker
  • Orthopaedic Technician
  • Orthotic Technician
  • Patient Transport Service Call Handler
  • Pharmacy Assistant
  • Phlebotomist
  • Podiatry Assistant
  • Physiotherapy Assistant
  • Prosthetic Technician
  • Radiography Assistant
  • Speech and Language Therapy Assistant
  • Support, Time and Recovery Worker
  • Theatre Support Worker

For an overview of the UK healthcare sector, visit the Prospects website. For more information about the wide range of clinical support roles available and their entry requirements, visit the HealthCareers website.

More information about Healthcare Support Workers is available on the Royal College of Nursing and HealthCareers websites.